Friday 17 November, 2017

Disabled community cheering on $1,000 parking fine

President of the Senate, her Honour Kerryann Ifill wants a higher penalty for lawbreakers.

President of the Senate, her Honour Kerryann Ifill wants a higher penalty for lawbreakers.

A game-changing amendment is being made in Parliament today as the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, 2017, is debated to introduce a hefty fine for persons who park in spaces allocated for the disabled.

Not satisfied with watching and listening to the long-awaited piece of legislation on their TVs and radios at home or at their workplaces, members of the disabled community gathered on the grounds of Parliament and took in the proceedings from the gallery and the upstairs conference room. About 30 persons showed up to demonstrate their approval of the government's move.

President of the Senate, Her Honour Kerryann Ifill (Front Row: right) and the Secretary of the Barbados Council for the Disabled Board of Directors, Rev. Joseph Tudor (Back Row: second from left) in the Parliament gallery as the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, 2017, was introduced on Tuesday, November 14, 2017.

The Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steven Blackett, came out into the courtyard and shook hands with the contingent prior to the official start of the Sitting of Parliament.

President of the Senate, Her Honour Kerryann Ifill, said the amendments are long overdue and highly anticipated.

“In 2002, I was working at the Barbados Council for the Disabled when they implemented the parking IDs which is a public service, and since then I have been waiting patiently for this. This work has been in process, the official legislation since 2005, and so today I am extremely excited, thrilled, pleased and looking forward to when we debate it in the Senate so that we can have it passed into legislation because parking is a definite need for persons with disabilities, and, more importantly, we need people to take us seriously and recognise that our needs and rights are just as important as theirs,” she stated.

Calling the fine “wonderful”, she wished the amount was even higher. Explaining her stance, she argued, “because too many people have said things like the disabled don’t need to be out at this hour; or nobody don’t use these parking spaces and stuff like that; ‘Oh, I only going in here for five minutes’, and they’re in there for 10, 15 and 20 minutes; so the heftier the fine, the more recognition people will give to it.”

Then she made her way up the stairs and into the gallery of Parliament.

Speaking to Loop News on the sidelines as well, Secretary, Barbados Council for the Disabled Board of Directors, Rev. Joseph ‘Johnny’ Tudor, said he is glad it will be placed on the law books finally, that whether “in private businesses, public spaces, wherever there is a disabled parking space and people are parked illegally, the law will now be amended this morning to make sure that it is now an offence punishable by a fairly hefty fine that I expect to be a deterrent to persons who are making it a habit to sometimes park in disabled spots across Barbados.”

Tudor said that this issue has been “a nuisance to the Barbadian disabled community, a real nuisance, and some people are very offensive when they come to park in the marked spaces. They can get very rude, and they have no respect for members of the disabled community.”

So he said that the Council and persons with disabilities welcome the amendment to the Road Traffic Act this morning and “hope that the public will oblige the disabled and do not break the law because it will cost them.”

Tudor said of the fine: "It could be as high as a thousand dollars. It could be a fine of at least $1,000 for persons parking illegally in a disabled spot. That is going to be a big, big thing across Barbados.”

Noting that some people may be up in arms at the high fine, he said such penalties are enforced around the world, “Barbados is a little slow in bringing the legislation but you know what? It is here, so we welcome that.”

Going forward, he added that they would like to see the disabled's rights to employment and other opportunities appreciated and increased, but at this time with this step, he conceded, “We are making progress, bit by bit.”

Special Envoy for persons with disabilities, Roslyn Hurley, being assisted into Parliament this morning.